Professional photographers know that a sturdy camera bag with a functional (and preferably attractive) design is essential to travelling around with mirrorless gear. One look through the bag section of any camera store will tell you that there are many practical options out there to choose between – the difficult part is finding one that suits you.
Since we’ve had the opportunity to test many mirrorless camera bags over the years, we thought we’d share a selection that left a lasting impression on us. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it should give you an idea of what’s out there at the moment!
Ethics statement: The following list is based upon our experience with camera bags. We were not asked to write anything about these bags, nor were we provided any compensation of any kind. All opinions we express are our own. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!
1. National Geographic Earth Explorer Pouch
The National Geographic Earth Explorer was the very first bag we ever used for our mirrorless system, which was at the time an Olympus OM-D E-M5 with two small primes, the 12mm and 45mm.
Even to this day, I love this bag for its simplicity and its rugged appearance. It has a main pouch that can fit one small to medium sized mirrorless camera with a small prime attached, and a side pocket that is big enough to accommodate a lens cloth, an extra battery and a memory card or two. There isn’t much else to say except that it is perfect if you want to travel as light as possible!
2. Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 20
Out of the four mirrorless bags in the Mirrorless Mover series, we opted to review the Mirrorless Mover 20 for its compact size. If used strictly as a camera bag and nothing else, the Mirrorless Mover 20 can house one mirrorless body, one medium sized lens (attached to the body), and two smaller lenses.
To give you a real-life example, I am able to fit the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm attached to the mount in the main compartment, the M.Zuiko 60mm macro alongside it (protected by a foam divider) and third prime such as the 12mm or 45mm in the adjacent pocket.
There is also a special padded compartment for your smartphone inside the bag, as well as numerous pockets for accessories. It is the perfect bag for outings where you only need a minimal amount of gear.
3. Porteen Gear Compact Camera Bag
I am a huge fan of handmade camera accessories, so it was a delight to come across the Porteen Gear store on Etsy. By using Porteen Gear’s online bag builder, you can choose from vast selection of fabrics and leather to build your own unique compact camera bag like the one in the picture above. While many of the designs and fabrics are more suited to feminine tastes, there is also a good selection for men as well.
As the name suggests, it has been designed specifically for mirrorless cameras and can comfortably fit one small body such as the Fujifilm X-T10 or Sony a6000 with a smallish prime attached inside the main compartment, and two small lenses on either side. It also doubles up as an ordinary handbag.
4. CosySpeed Streetomatic
The Cosyspeed Camslinger belt bag series came into existence at around the same time mirrorless cameras began growing in popularity. The bags in this series are designed specifically for mirrorless photographers who always want their camera at arm’s reach for street photography or long hikes and prefer not to use a standard camera bag.
The newest version, the Streetomatic, was crowdfunded on Indiegogo and is now available for purchase. It can fit a medium-sized mirrorless camera such as the Sony A7rII with two small-to-medium sized lenses, or simply be used to carry around extra lenses and accessories if you plan to keep your camera around your neck or wrist.
5. Tenba Cooper 13 Slim
The Tenba Cooper 13 Slim is the second smallest messenger bag in the Cooper range, which consists of four bags in total.
As the Tenba website states, it strikes an excellent balance between good looks and versatility. There are seven pockets placed in convenient positions around the bag, a weatherproof leather base, and a quick-access top zipper along the bag’s main opening to keep your gear safe and dry on wet days. Its appearance is understated enough that you could easily use it in the city, but it benefits from the rugged materials needed for more strenuous outings such as nature hikes. There is enough room inside the bag for a mirrorless body plus 3-5 lenses depending on how large they are.
6. Tenba Switch 10
Tenba calls the Switch the “first professional mirrorless camera bag” and while it technically isn’t the first (that title goes to the Mirrorless Mover series by Think Tank), the three bags in the series are indeed the ideal size for mirrorless gear.
The Tenba Switch 10 feature water-repellant nylon materials with a quick-access top zipper for easy and secure access to your gear, a non-abrasive body armour base panel, two straps to which you can attach a tripod, many pockets, and removable flaps so you can change the look and style of your bag depending on where you are shooting. The black leather flap is good for formal outings, for example, while the camouflage flap is ideal for landscape photography. You can easily fit even the largest mirrorless bodies and lenses inside the Switch 10. For example, we were able to carry around the Samsung NX1 with the 16-50mm f/2.8, the Sony a6000 with its kit lens and the FE 55mm f/1.8.
7. Peak Design Everyday Messenger
Crowdfunded on Kickstarter with over $4 million, the Everyday Messenger by Peak Design was a success even before it hit the shelves. The bag was realised with the invaluable input of photographer Trey Ratcliff and strives to be different from other messenger bags in many ways. First, its innovative MagLatch closure system provides extra security because it is difficult to open unless you’ve been taught how it works. Second, the internal FlexFold dividers have a polygonal shape, allowing them to wrap around your lenses and gear without taking up too much space inside the bag. Finally, it is 100% compatible with other Peak Design products such as the Capture Clip.
Since this bag is quite big, it can easily house a couple of mirrorless bodies along with 2-4 lenses. There is also a second, smaller 13″ version that is actually made for mirrorless systems (but we haven’t had the chance to try it yet).
8. Think Tank Lily Deanne Mezzo
This one is for the ladies out there (though there isn’t a rule that says men can’t use this bag as well!). The Lily Deanne series consists of three messenger bags and is the brainchild of bag designer, Lily Fisher, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Deanne Fitzmaurice.
From the first time you use the Lily Deanne Mezzo (the medium sized bag), you can immediately perceive that it was designed by people who understand the needs of photographers. It has a classic yet understated appearance that doesn’t scream “camera bag” and a plethora of pockets and storages areas for accessories in all the right places. With enough room for a mirrorless body and 3-4 lenses, it is the perfect companion for events, weddings, reportage work or any other event that calls for an attractive bag to match a formal to semi-formal outfit.
9. Think Tank Retrospective 5
Think Tank’s Retrospective camera bag series is one of the most well-known and well-respected on the market thanks to the excellent build quality of the bags. The version we had the chance to try was the Retrospective 5 Leather, which is the smallest bag and a good match for mirrorless cameras if you don’t want to carry around too much gear.
It comes with “soundless” velcro closures (you can cover the velcro when you want to be discreet), a cross-buckle for extra security, weather-sealed cotton canvas, a comfortable shoulder pad, and loads of pockets – basically, everything you could ever want from a camera bag.
10. LowePro Event Messenger 150
The LowePro Event Messenger 150 was the first messenger bag we ever owned for our mirrorless system and it proved a faithful companion for a number of years. It is also one of the less expensive products here, so it is a good choice if you are just starting out on your photographic journey and have a limited budget.
It comes with all the basics such as a main compartment with dividers, a side pocket for accessories, a padded shoulder strap, a padded tablet compartment and soundless velcro closures. It isn’t weather-proof but this shouldn’t matter as long as you don’t get caught in a downpour.